This magnificent feat of engineering is one of Australia’s top tourism attractions. Six-person gondolas leave every few seconds for the 7.5 km (4 1/2-mile) journey to the rainforest village of Kuranda. The view of the coast as you ascend is so breathtaking that even those afraid of heights will find it worthwhile. As you rise over the foothills of the coastal range, watch the lush green of the rainforest take over beneath you. Looking back, you have spectacular views over Cairns and north toward Trinity Bay. On a clear day, you can see . . . if not forever, then at least to Green Island. There are two stops during the 90-minute trip, at Red Peak and Barron Falls. After about 10 minutes, you reach Red Peak. You are now 545 m (1,788 ft.) above sea level, and massive kauri pines dominate the view. You must change gondolas at each station, so take the time to stroll around the boardwalks for the ground view of the rainforest. Free guided walks are run regularly through the day.
On board again, you continue on to Barron Falls station, built on the site of an old construction camp for workers on the first hydroelectric power station on the Barron River in the 1930s. A rainforest information center is here, as well as boardwalks to the lookouts for wonderful views of the Barron Gorge and Falls. From Barron Falls station, the gondola travels over the thick rainforest of the range. As you reach the end of the trip, the gondola passes over the Barron River and across the Kuranda railway line into the station. Don’t worry if it rains on the day you go—one of the best trips I’ve made on Skyrail was in a misty rain, which added a new dimension to the rainforest.
I strongly recommend that you combine Skyrail with a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Rail for a wonderful day trip from Cairns. The best way is to take the train from Cairns in the morning and return on Skyrail in the afternoon—for the views going down the range.